De Monica is advertised as one of the earliest spring down broad beans to harvest and should from a Feb planting it is claimed be ready to harvest in May. It has a RHS award at the time of writing.
The yield is large with about 5 beans per pod which grow to a large size and still remain quite tender even when big. We had a bit of a funny spring this year and if I’d started harvesting in May I would truly be committing infanticide. The crop was ready in early to mid June. Although they are supposed to grow to 120 cm mine did not go over 60 cm and although I put stakes in place they didn’t need support this year but this may be because of the unusual weather.
In the Kitchen: Though quite tender even when large, I found them a bit insipid. They are a little sweeter and less bitter than the heritage varieties but have perhaps because of that lost some of the punch. I like broad beans picked young and lightly blanched in boiling water. You can also use them instead of peas in Pea and Mint Bruschetta or as part of Falafels. Broad beans freeze well. To freeze plunge in to boiling water for a minute and, drain and then plunge in to icy cold water until cool. Drain and pat dry and then freeze, spread out on a tray if possible before putting in to a freezer proof container or bag.
Plant health and yield
Good germination and plants were robust, healthy and strong even with a spring with late frosts, droughts and flooding. Yield is good.
De Monica is designed to be sown in the spring to crop in June and should be sown successionally in two-week intervals between February (under cover), March and April. Broad bean Aquadulce Claudia can also be sown in autumn.
Sow bean seeds 5 cm deep and 15cm (dwarf varieties) to 20cm (tall apart) in 2 rows, 20 cm apart. Space each double row 60 cm away from each other. Sow extras at the end to replace any gaps. Alternatively you can sow in root training modules and plant out, after hardening off for a week when the beans have reached a couple of inches high.
Tall varieties will need support which is usually done by staking every 1.5m along the row and stringing two wires, one at 30cm height, the other 60 cm height. Repeat on the other side of the double row. Field beans and dwarf beans should not need support.
If you are sowing in modules and transplanting out then water in transplants well and keep well watered for the next two weeks. After that only water plants when they being to flower and then water well as beans start to set in the pods. Other than that they should only need watering if there is a prolonged dry period.
To reduce the chance of blackfly pinch off the top of the plant if you see blackfly or once the first beans starting to form. You can also spray them off with water. Discouraging ants with anti ant nematodes will also stop them farming and protecting blackfly and give other insects the chance to pick them off.
If you start to see chocolate brown spots (Chocolate Spot fungal infection) appearing, most likely in a hot wet spring/summer, then lift and dispose of the plant. Do not compost.
Harvest the beans when the pods feel full to the touch but before the beans develop a black stripe where it is attached to the pod. After this point they will be floury.